Bull-feasts are a common diversion here, and surpass any thing of that kind I ever saw at Lisbon, or any where else. Indeed, it is amazing to see the activity and dexterity of those who attack the bulls. It is always done here by those only who follow it as a trade, for it is too dangerous to be practised as a diversion; as a proof of which, it is found, that though some may hold out longer than others, there are few who constantly practise it that die a natural death. The bulls are always the wildest that can be brought in from the mountains or forests, and have nothing on their horns to prevent their piercing a man at the first stroke, as they have at Lisbon. I have seen a man, when the bull came at him with the utmost fury, spring directly over the beast’s head, and perform this feat several times, and at last jump on his back, and there sit a considerable time, the bull the whole time attempting every means to throw him. But though this practitioner was successful, several accidents happened while I was there. The ladies, at these feasts, are always dressed as fine as possible; and, I imagine, go rather to be admired than to receive any amusement from a sight that one should think would give them pain.
Another amusement for the ladies here, are the nights of their great processions, when they go out veiled; and in that dress, they amuse themselves in talking to people much in the manner that is done at our masquerades. One night in Lent, as I was standing close to the houses while the procession went by, and having nothing but a thin waistcoat on under my cloak, and happening to have my arm out, a lady came by, and gave me a pinch with so good a will, that I thought she had taken the piece out; and, indeed, I carried the marks for a long time after. I durst not take the least notice of this at the time, for had I made any disturbance, I should have been knocked on the head. This kind lady immediately after mixed with the crowd, and I never could find out who had done me that favour. I have seen fifty or sixty penitents following these processions; they wear a long white garment with a long train to it, and high caps of the same, which fall down before and cover all their faces, having only two small holes for their eyes, so that they are never known. Their backs are bare, and they lash themselves with a cat-o’-nine-tails till the long train behind is covered all over with blood. Others follow them with great heavy crosses upon their backs, so that they groan under the weight as they walk barefooted, and often faint away. The streets swarm with friars of all the different orders. The president has always a guard at his palace regularly clothed. The rest of their forces consists of militia, who are numerous.